The Term “Influence” Does Mean A Lot

Years ago I read an article by Chris Brogan titled Improve Your Influence. The most interesting thing I found in the post was the first line, where he stated “The term “influence” doesnโ€™t mean a lot, and yet, it seems to be the holy grail for online social media people. The reason it was interesting is that the rest of the article indicated that he pretty much understood how influential he was, whether he was trying to get there or not. Some of the name dropping, which I’m going to do some day (smile), shows that he knows and has talked to some fairly influential people.

social circles of influence

Social Circles of Influence by Anne Adrian

Being more influential has always been one of my goals. In some ways I’ve become that; in others, I’m woefully normal. lol Circumstances can either enhance or diminish one’s influence. Circumstances are… well… circumstances. ๐Ÿ™‚

In a way, it makes me think of two lines from the movie Happy Feet, (which I hope most of you have seen; it’s one of my favorites); to wit:

I hear the world wanting something… Me!!!

After the applause he gets from his friends:

Thank you; I’ll take a moment for myself.

I’ve always given thought to the messages I try to project across the board, and realized that me talking about, well, pretty much everything, seems to work as long as I don’t deviate too much or often from the norm… whatever that actually means. Let’s address that for a moment.

For years I’ve had fairly defined niches and processes. This blog was initially only about blogging, writing, and social media. I deviated here and there onto other things that interested me in the moment, but I came back to the core of most of my content. My business blog addressed only things that I might talk about in my consulting business. Those topics were leadership, diversity, customer service and of course health care finance.

At some point, I got more comfortable with the written word and started branching out into the topics of motivation and inspiration. I felt those were areas where I could be more influential to the masses, even though I hadn’t thought of that particular word at the time. It turns out that the crowd that visited this blog loved things like that. As for my business blog… well… at least it helps me stay high in Google’s search engines for a while (I might talk about that again one of these days).

At some point I came to the conclusion that a big part of becoming more influential coincides with three of our favorite characters from the Wizard of Oz. Let me explain; stay with me on this one (you know you love stories :-).

The Scarecrow said he needed a brain. The Wizard gave him a diploma. If you check your thesaurus, another word that can be used for diploma is “credentials”. Those of us who write and talk about things that we have the credentials for, and can prove it on a consistent basis, have a great opportunity to increase our influence as we go along.

The Tin Man said he needed a heart. The Wizard gave him a testimonial, which meant that he honored the Tin Man in a way that others could see the type of person he was. When we acknowledge others at times, it not only helps boost them but we boost ourselves. We show that we know it’s not only about us. Almost no one succeeds on their own; that’s a hard lesson to learn. Touting others helps your influence because it comes back to you in spades.

The Cowardly Lion said he lacked courage. The Wizard gave him a medal and called him a hero. I tend to believe that every person that writes a blog and continues writing, or does YouTube videos even if their channels don’t have a lot of subscribers, or continuously does good things for themselves and others even when it seems somewhat fruitless, is a hero, and eventually heroes are noted by someone for their contributions. Heroes also help other solve problems, or gain perspective about things going on in their life. Become a hero and your influence will definitely grow.

I don’t try to make my bones by being intentionally disagreeable, though I’ll sometimes state my case on the opposite of what someone else has said. I’ll also agree with someone openly if there’s a point I feel I can help enhance. Either way, it helps both people to be more influential, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As an introvert, I admit that I love the perceived silence most of the time (I listen to a lot of music in the background, so it’s not always that quiet). I also like having one on one conversations, and on social media engage with others here and there (except Twitter; sniff!). It’s not about the numbers as much as the purpose. If I can help even one person, whether they learn from anything I’ve done or said, good or bad, I think it’s considered as influence; isn’t it?

Your thoughts on all of this?

11 thoughts on “The Term “Influence” Does Mean A Lot”

  1. What is “influential” to me is people who have demonstrated expertise and trustworthiness.

    Sadly, that means I don’t have many “heroes” or “influencers,” but maybe that’s a good thing. They should be rare, not a dime a dozen. I trust you, and I know that you have expertise in a field that (unfortunately for YOU) isn’t one I need advice on. I’m not your target market and as far as I know, my network doesn’t include those who are. If I were or if I did, I’d put you in touch with them in a heartbeat – and that’s where trust comes in. It’s not enough to have expertise if no one trusts you enough to introduce you to the RIGHT people. And it’s not enough to have the trust of people who don’t know those people (sorry about that!). Of course, the latter has value – just not the kind that’s good for business. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. I think you’ve been influential in your own way. Your blog has inspired a lot of people to start blogging and sharing their stories. Your books have probably influenced a couple of generations of children, and possibly some of their parents. Your Toastmaster dedication has probably inspired some of the other speakers to try to match your chutzpah and will to challenge and kick behinds of other presenters (I know, I know… lol). True, neither one of us will ever have the audience of some of the top media and self help influencers in the world, but we wouldn’t need that many bodies to be successful if that was our field of expertise.

      1. You’re very kind. Generous.

        If I have influenced two kids (mine), now young adults, I’m content. If young readers have found, read, and enjoyed my books, that’s icing on the cake. If any of them grow up to be writers, well, I’ll never know – but if any of them learn to appreciate diversity (from Trockle and A Puppy, Not a Guppy) or the value of honesty (from A New Leaf for Lyle), I’ll be thrilled. I may never know, but I’m happy to think so.

        You may be right about Toastmasters. I’m no Darren LaCroix (R’s hero) but I think my honesty and survival story (you know, “I spoke in public for money and didn’t die of embarrassment”) probably has inspired a few new members and encouraged them to go on. A few have even told me so.

        But I don’t want to be a famous “influencer.” Like I said, I think of “influencer” as someone with both expertise and trustworthiness (I think I have both) and I don’t have to influence millions – the ripples from the small influence you describe works just fine.

      2. I wouldn’t mind being a famous anything, as long as I got to control most of the narrative. The thing about doing that in today’s world is that no matter how good you are, you’re going to get haters, which makes absolutely no sense but so be it. At least I’m not on Twitter to have to deal with that mess if it happened. lol

  2. I have been accused of being difficult because when people tell me they want to be an influencer I always ask why.

    It is not always the social media kind of influencer either, sometimes they just want to say they have influence.

    That is about the time I ask them why because I am curious about the reason(s) and if they have thought about it.

    1. Luckily I can answer that question. In general terms, I’ve always wanted to help people. Throughout most of my years, people came to me for advice and I gave them “options”. I didn’t want to tell people what to do, but giving them options lets them make decisions for themselves. When you see what I’ve written about over all these years on social media, except for the stories most of it’s been trying to help educate people to be better in fields I had expertise in.

  3. Quiet influence is the most lasting. When I was in the 12th grade, I was asked to speak to a bunch of 8th graders about what it was like to be in our small high school (so that they could decide whether to stay or transfer.)

    Years later, a friend of my wife’s told me that he remembered my speech! Wow. Right?

    The only influence that matters to me is that which impacts my children. Several of them have become programmers after I taught them how to write programs in BASIC. ๐Ÿ™‚



    1. That’s cool stuff. Truthfully, though I’ve always wanted to be some kind of influencer, I never thought about it all that much. Then I went to a health care conference where this woman came up to me (I was kind of easy to identify lol) and said she loved reading my health care newsletters (which I wrote for 10 years) and the articles that showed up in the organizations quarterly periodicals. That caught me off guard because I never received any direct feedback from writing any of that stuff, but I felt pretty good after that.

  4. Mitch, this line says it all for me – Itโ€™s not about the numbers as much as the purpose.” By social media standards, I don’t pay enough attention to the numbers. But for me, that’s okay because the purpose is more important to me. At my business writing site, it’s about helping to promote better business communication. At my personal sites, it’s about trying to be a better human being. One of my posts at my business writing site discusses our need to be heard (which is better -IMHO- than being liked).

    Like Holly, I don’t want to be a famous “influencer.” But I do appreciate being heard. One of the most gratifying experience I had came from a woman I coached in softball when she was 9 to 12 year old. She told me that as a child she knew she was not a good player but I never made her feel that way or feel bad about it. She credits me with her pursuing an active life and trying things outside her comfort zone. I had no idea. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in 30-40 years. Her sharing that meant more than and string of likes ever could. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. First, we’ll overlook the typo; I make many of those all the time. lol Second, I’m glad you heard from someone you helped bring long term comfort to by how you treated her; that’s special.

      I tend to think almost everyone is some kind of influencer… although it’s possible that it’s not all good. I try to be as good as I can because one never knows how someone will be affected. I think that’s what helps to make life worth living. ๐Ÿ™‚

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